Texas Rangers all-time team: Pudge, Palmeiro and A-Rod in the lineup; Ryan and Rogers in the rotation


In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We’ve created a 30-day series making an all-time team for each MLB club. We’re breaking down one team each day throughout April, continuing today in the Lone Star State.

As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I’m making a Baseball Stars team for each. That’s right, the old-school Nintendo video game “Baseball Stars,” which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squads. 

Up next is the Texas Rangers, which also includes 11 years of the Washington Senators — the second iteration; after the first Senators became the Twins.

Catcher

Jim Sundberg was a very good backstop for the Rangers for 12 seasons and actually sits sixth in the franchise in career WAR, but there really isn’t even a discussion to be had. Ivan Rodriguez is the easy pick. 

First base

In two different stints that totaled 10 years, Rafael Palmeiro was one of the most prolific players in franchise history. He’s fourth in hits, second in runs, second in home runs and second in RBI. He didn’t just compile, he sported a 137 OPS+. Only our catcher has more career Rangers WAR. 

We should also mention Mark Teixeira had some great seasons, too, and his trade brought them a group that helped lead to the best run in club history, providing two pennants. 

Second base

This is really tough. Julio Franco had a handful of excellent offensive seasons. Ian Kinsler is fifth in career WAR for the Rangers and was their second baseman for the two runs to the World Series. Ultimately, though, I couldn’t do service to Rangers fans if I left Michael Young off the team and I need him here. He’s the franchise leader in runs, hits, doubles, triples, total bases and times on base. He hit .301 in his Rangers career. It’s tough to leave Kinsler out, and I can see some people having an issue with my pick at short, but that’s just how it goes. 

Shortstop

I love Elvis Andrus and we could’ve gone with Young here and Kinsler at second, too, but A-Rod is the pick. He spent just three years in Texas, but he won an MVP and averaged 52 homers and 132 RBI per season, slashing .305/.395/.615. Again, it was only three years, but they are the three highest WAR years at shortstop in franchise history. 

Third base

We have to mention utility man Toby Harrah and I’ll give Hank Blalock a quick shout, but this is a two-horse race. Buddy Bell vs. Adrian Beltre. Let’s take a look at their Rangers-only lines. 

Bell: .293/.351/.431, 117 OPS+, 1,060 H, 197 2B, 87 HR, 499 RBI, 471 R, 36.3 WAR, 4 ASG, 6 Gold Gloves
Beltre: .304/.357/.509, 128 OPS+, 1,277 H, 239 2B, 199 HR, 699 RBI, 612 R, 41.2 WAR, 3 ASG, 3 GG

Beltre also played for four playoff teams, including the 2011 AL champs, and collected his 3,000th career hit with the Rangers. He’s my man. 

Left field

Here’s a Washington Senator appearance. Frank Howard spent parts of eight seasons with the franchise, though only 95 games with the Texas version. Still, Howard had a 153 OPS+ with the franchise and his three-year stretch from 1968-70 was amazing. He hit .284/.386/.558 (173 OPS+) with an average of 45 homers and 114 RBI per season. He led the league in homers two of those three years, finishing eighth, fourth and fifth, respectively, in MVP voting. 

Center field

Off the top, we’re going to avoid Josh Hamilton at any of the three spots out here. Feel free to disagree with the choice, but it’s my team. Ruben Sierra was mostly a right fielder, but he spent a little time in center field, so he’s the pick out here. In parts of 10 seasons with the Rangers, Sierra was a three-time All-Star. In 1989, he was the MVP runner up after hitting .306/.347/.543 (146 OPS+) with 35 doubles, 14 triples, 29 homers, 119 RBI and 101 runs. 

Rusty Greer also deserves mention and not just because of his catch to preserve Kenny Rogers’ perfect game. 

Right field

It was only a four-year run, but Al Oliver hit .319 with a 131 OPS+ and received MVP votes in three of his four years in Texas. He carried 162-game averages of 200+ hits, 100+ RBI and 40+ doubles. Oh, and he only struck out 150 times in 2,263 plate appearances. Given that it looks like we need a leadoff man, that’s a bonus. 

Designated hitter

I saved him for here. Juan Gonzalez was a two-time MVP — even if those votes look dubious now — and is the franchise leader in home runs and RBI. He topped 40 homers five times and once hit 39. He topped 100 RBI seven times, including 157 in 1998. 

Apologies among position players we didn’t yet mention: Mike Hargrove, Pete O’Brien, Bump Wills, Nelson Cruz, Jeff Burroughs and several others. 

Starting pitchers

Knuckleballer Charlie Hough is the career leader in wins, innings, WAR, strikeouts(!) and complete games while still posting a 111 ERA+. He’s not necessarily the ace, but he’s the easiest pick on the board. He has to be in here. 

Rogers was mentioned above and he spent parts of 12 seasons with the Rangers. He was a three-time All-Star and sits second to Hough in WAR and wins. He’s got the aforementioned perfect game. He’s a fine selection. 

Even though they had stints that were more memorable other places, I’ll take Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (51-39, 3.43 ERA, 939 K in 840 IP) and Fergie Jenkins (93-72, 3.56 ERA, third in Rangers pitcher WAR). On a different franchise, we probably wouldn’t have necessarily gone with them, but the next best options are Kevin Brown, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels and four years of Gaylord Perry. I like my four. 

Reliever

Tough one here. Francisco Cordero, Joe Nathan and Jeff Russell come to mind. Neftali Feliz was excellent through 2014, but he blew the 2011 World Series, right? Still, Feliz was there for a long time and helped them get deep in the playoffs. As for the World Series, if Ron Washington put in a defensive replacement for Nelson Cruz in right field, Feliz would have closed it down and the Rangers would own the 2011 trophy. He’s the pick.

The Lineup

Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup.

  1. Oliver, RF
  2. Adrian, 3B
  3. A-Rod, SS
  4. Juan, DH
  5. Raffy, 1B
  6. Pudge, C
  7. Frank, LF
  8. Ruben, CF
  9. Young, 2B

SP: Nolan, Fergie, Hough, Kenny
RP: Feliz

Bench: Ian (Kinsler), Elvis (Andrus), Buddy (Bell) and Julio (Franco). Maybe someday I’ll be able to work Joey Gallo — favorite of the blog! — onto the squad. For now, this is it. 





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